Apr 5, 2020
Surgeon General Jerome Adams & Chris Wallace Interview Transcript
Surgeon General Jerome Adams was interviewed by Chris Wallace today about coronavirus or COVID-19. Adams said this week will be the saddest in many Americans’ lives, that it will be like a ‘Pearl Harbor’ and ‘9/11’ moment. He also urged governors who haven’t issued stay-at-home orders to “give us a week.” Read the full transcript here.
What is Rev?
Chris Wallace: (00:00)
And joining us now, the US Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams. Dr. Adams, the US is now reporting 30,000 new cases a day. I want to put up a chart that shows the curve of cases in Italy and China, which have leveled off and are now going down. And the curve on the far right there, here in the US, which is still in the early stages, and is still headed up sharply.
Chris Wallace: (00:30)
Given the course of the disease in China and Italy, and that we are weeks or months behind them, how bad is this epidemic going to be in America, and how long will it last?
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (00:42)
Well, it’s tragically fitting that we’re talking at the beginning of Holy week, because this is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans lives, quite frankly. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 911 moment. Only, it’s not going to be localized, it’s going to be happening all over the country. I want America to understand that.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (01:01)
But I also want them to understand, that the public, along with the state and the federal government,, have the power to change the trajectory of this epidemic. You mentioned Italy and Spain. They had a very, very hard time and they’re still having a hard time, but they seem to have reached their peak and are coming back down on the other side.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (01:18)
And you say weeks, months behind. I would actually push back a little bit. When you look at their trajectory from about a month ago, is when they really started to lean into their aggressive mitigation efforts, their really aggressive mitigation efforts.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (01:31)
I want Americans to understand, that as hard as this week is going to be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If everyone does their part for the next 30 days, we’re seeing Washington, actually where this started, doing a much better job. California’s trajectory has leveled off. There is hope, but we’ve got to all do our part.
Chris Wallace: (01:52)
Let’s talk about mitigation, because the president’s top health advisors, including you, say the most important thing we can do all of us, is to stay at home. And yet, there are still nine states, with millions of Americans, that still have not issued stay at home orders. President Trump was asked about that this week. Here he is.
President Trump: (02:16)
I leave it up to the governors. The governors know what they’re doing, they’ve been doing a great job. I guess we’re close to 90% anyway, and states that we’re talking about are not in jeopardy. No, I would leave it to the governors.
Chris Wallace: (02:32)
But Dr. Adams, the coronavirus is not a state issue, it doesn’t follow or a respect state borders. Dr Fauci says, he believes that there should be a national stay at home order. Is he wrong?
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (02:48)
Well, Chris, it’s important to understand that most people across the country are doing the right thing. Over 90% of the country is staying at home, and a good proportion, more than average, are staying home even in those nine States.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (03:01)
But the last time you and I talked, it was about opioids. People don’t know, but I’ve run a state Department of Health. I’ve been involved in health for years, and diseases don’t respect state lines, but we live in a country where we have a system of federalism.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (03:16)
When it comes to opioids, States have different rules and regulations and laws regarding treatment, regarding syringe service programs. As you and I have talked about. I actually put out a report on tobacco cessation earlier this year, and we know that States have different laws there. More people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country, than are going to die from coronavirus this year.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (03:39)
We always are struggling with trying to get information out to guide people, that we know will help them be healthy, with states’ rights. But it’s why we put out these 30 Days to Stop the Spread guidelines. These are essentially, our national stay at home order. And we’re working with governors to figure out their needs, their desires.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (03:57)
One more important point, the nine states that haven’t yet done shelter in place orders, are states that actually produce a large amount of our food. So, they’re struggling with issues concerning how they can provide for the rest of the country to be able to stay at home.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (04:13)
But right now, my, what I would say to those governors is, if you can’t give us a month, give us what you can. Give us a week, give us whatever you can, to stay at home during this particularly tough time, when we’re going to be hitting our peak over the next seven to 10 days
Chris Wallace: (04:28)
But Dr. Adams, there’s a big difference between opioids and cigarettes, which are something that people decide to use or not to use. The coronavirus, which people catch, it’s not an individual choice.
Chris Wallace: (04:44)
When president Trump says that he’s a wartime president, during World War II, FDR didn’t say, “Well, it’s up to each state to decide what to do.” He mobilized the nation. Again, why not a national stay at home order? The coronavirus doesn’t recognize state’s rights, so does the federal analogy really work here?
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (05:08)
Well, Chris, I know a week ago is forever in coronavirus time. But I would remind people, that it was just a week ago when the idea of a federal quarantine for the New York City area was being floated, and Governor Cuomo said that would be like declaring war on the states.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (05:25)
The governors are intensely protective of their right, and and rightly so, to be able to decide what’s best for their states. We’re going to do everything we can as scientists and as physicians, as medical professionals, to help them understand what we think the right thing is for them to do.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (05:38)
I just want everyone to know, that from a national perspective, the surgeon general is saying, no matter where you are, stay at home. At least give us a week or two if you can. We want you to do it for 30 days. But even in those nine States, give us what you can, so we can get this peak and start to come down on the other side.
Chris Wallace: (05:56)
Dr. Adams, for days, President Trump has been talking about hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for people with the coronavirus. But yesterday, in his briefing, he took it even further. Take a look.
President Trump: (06:14)
What do you have to lose? In some cases, they’re in bad shape. What do you have to lose? I may take it, and I’ll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it.
Chris Wallace: (06:26)
Dr. Adams, as the nation’s top public health official, are you comfortable with people taking an unproven, untested drug, even people who don’t actually have the virus?
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (06:40)
Well, here’s what we’ve advised the president, and here’s what I’ve heard him say consistently. When people are in a tragic situation, where they’re in the hospital or a loved one’s in the hospital with C COVID-19, we want them to be able to have a conversation with their healthcare provider about everything that they could possibly do to save their life.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (06:59)
There is some account, some stories out there, regarding hydroxychloroquine helping, and we know it’s been available for years, so we feel a little bit better regarding its safety than we do about a completely novel drug, even though this is being used at much higher dosages. We just want to be able to facilitate physicians and patients having that conversation. That’s what I tell people. That’s what I’ve heard the president tell people.
Chris Wallace: (07:25)
Finally, and I got about a minute left here, Dr. Adams, the CDC now recommends that people use face coverings in public. In fact, you’re in a CDC video, in which you show people how to make a mask themselves that they can wear. But President Trump was clear, that he is not going to be following that guidance. Take a look here, sir.
President Trump: (07:50)
I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself.
Chris Wallace: (08:04)
Does that statement by the president send a mixed message, about taking this recommendation seriously?
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (08:12)
Well, if you look at the CDC guidelines, they actually emphasize that, number one, they’re volunteering. And number two, and the most important part of this, is they’re not a substitute for social distancing.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (08:21)
I was at the White House yesterday, I’m going there immediately after this. The White House doctors and Secret Service are taking pains to make sure everyone is social distancing, in regards to the president, and the vice president and each other. And so, the president is making a choice that’s appropriate for him.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (08:36)
What I want Americans to know is, if you’re going out in public and you’re going to be closer than six feet to other people, you can use a cloth facial covering. Here’s mine that I made, very easy to use, and it protects you, Chris, from me.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (08:51)
You want people to understand, you’re wearing this not to protect yourself. You’re using it to protect your neighbor, and that’s what this week is going to be all about. People staying at home to protect their neighbor, people wearing cloths, facial coverings if they have to go out in public, to protect their neighbor.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (09:05)
It’s going to be a test of our resolve. It’s going to be the test of our lives. But I am confident that we can come out on the other side based on the data, and based on what I know about the American people.
Chris Wallace: (09:16)
Dr. Adams, thank you. Thanks for your time during these very busy days. Please come back, sir.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams: (09:22)